In the early 1990s, Natalie meets Eva Whitechapel in Vienna, Austria. Between 2003 and 2005, Whitechapel contributes textile and garment designs to Project Alabama. Many of her stencil designs are later printed and embroidered for Project Alabama Machine, a collaboration with Italian manufacturer Gibo SpA. Additionally, Eva develops two garment patterns designed for her size and stature, which she describes as “for the larger figure.”
“My most favourite/comfortable and ever wearable for all occasions is your coat—nothing else hides so wonderfully with so much style my ageing and large body.
The two T shirts you had made, roughly according to my designs, for the female fuller figure I love— they are so comfortable and gorgeous and again hide so much.
I will send you your notes in my NEXT email about how difficult it was to transfer my ideas into something that might but didn't work.”
Update September 29, 2021: “I AM STILL WEARING THESE 3 ITEMS - they are very easy to wash.”
From Sara Martin, ongoing contributor to the Alabama Chanin Journal and, in 2005, Project Alabama's Office Coordinator and Copywriter:
"As part of her inspiration for patternmaking and design choices, Eva made regular trips to the local Piggly Wiggly grocery store, where she would wander the aisles in bedroom slippers, in constant amazement of the quantity of items available and the colorful labels and branding techniques. Her patterns were often one-of-a-kind and she would take apart recycled garments and “rebuild” them on an individual’s body, often tailoring them to the person’s exact shape."
Slide 1: Pique pattern designed by Eva Whitechapel for the Project Alabama Spring/Summer 2005 collection
Slide 2: Corsets in the hand-sewn Pique pattern designed by Eva Whitechapel for the Project Alabama Spring/Summer 2005 collection
Slide 3: Skirt in a reworked Job Flowers design by Eva Whitechapel from the Project Alabama Fall/Winter 2004 collection, photograph by Abraham Rowe
Slide 4: Detail of skirt in reworked Job Flowers design by Eva Whitechapel from the Project Alabama Fall/Winter 2004 collection, photograph by Abraham Rowe
Slide 5: Spread from the Field Catalog, Project Alabama Fall/Winter 2004 collection, styled by Eva Whitechapel, photographs and graphic design by Robert Rausch
Slide 6: Winter Leaves pattern designed by Eva Whitechapel for the Project Alabama Fall/Winter 2005 collection, photograph by Abraham Rowe; Photo by Robert Rausch from the Field Catalog, styled by Eva Whitechapel, 2004,
Slide 7: Eva Whitechapel, polaroid taken by Natalie Chanin sometime between 2003 and 2005; A note to Natalie from Eva Whitechapel (Eva reflects on an existential debate from those years ago—winter leaves versus weeds, as seen on the ground under their feet. Eva liked the weeds then, and still does)
Slide 8: Eva’s sketches for Winter Leaves patterns for the Project Alabama Fall/Winter 2005 collection; Natalie outside the Mud Road Studio modeling Eva’s pattern “for the fuller female figure”, designed for her own “fuller” body (see quote from Eva above)
Slide 9: Eva Whitechapel’s sketch for the “Eva Top”, which in Eva’s words was a “failure” and which Natalie still owns
Slide 10: (As promised) Natalie’s personal “Eva Top,” designed by Eva Whitechapel for the Project Alabama Spring/Summer 2005 collection, photograph by Abraham Rowe
Slide 11: Natalie Chanin’s polaroids of the Mud Road Studio, an appropriated garage space curated by Eva Whitechapel so that she could smoke (and often drink) while working; Eva’s illustrations and designs for stencils and garment patterns taped to the walls of the Mud Road Studio; Framed photographs of Natalie Chanin and her son, Zach, hung at the Mud Road Studio, photograph by Abraham Rowe
Slide 12: Eva Whitechapel’s painting on the wall of the Mud Road Studio (Natalie would eventually ship this painting across the Atlantic Ocean for Eva...twice); Eva Whitechapel’s working stencil designs taped to the wall of the Mud Road Studio, polaroids by Natalie Chanin, photographs by Robert Rausch
Slide 13: Coat with Pique lining and Pique Wrap Top from the Project Alabama Machine Spring/Summer 2005 collection, Pique pattern designed by Eva Whitechapel, photograph by Abraham Rowe